Some people wait until the New Year starts before they start thinking about what they will do and how they will do it. They work in a reactive manner and then they wonder why they can never get ahead of the curve.

Whether you run a company, a team or just your own life, you should put some thought and methodology into defining your objectives, strategy and tactics for 2015. It doesn't need to contain pages of research and detail, a couple of pages will do, but it should be simple and clear enough for everyone impacted to understand.

You don't have to do this yourself. Grab a friend or teammate and go to lunch to discuss the coming year. Here is a easy template for the 5 items that should be included in your plan.

1. The What

Make a simple list of the 5 things you absolutely must complete in 2015. Describe them in enough detail so people can articulate what it looks like when complete. Make sure you make the goals tangible and measurable.

2. The Why

If you don't have solid motivation for what you are doing, most likely, no one else involved will either. Spend a little time reflecting on the importance of your objectives. List out impact of success and also the repercussions of failure.

3. The How

Don't just assume everyone knows what to do. If your objectives were easy to get done in a year you probably would have gotten it all done in 2014. List out the process required step by step. Identify potential obstacles and remedies. Consider contingency plans so there are few unmanageable surprises.

4. The Who

It's possible you are the only one who can make this stuff happen. But if the objectives are worthwhile you'll likely need to engage others. Make sure that someone is responsible for each and every step in your plan. Get them to verbally commit and be ready to hold them accountable.

5. The When

Deadlines make a difference. If you don't decide in advance when something should be completed, you won't be able to tell if you are on track to meet the objectives. Set specific target dates for each task. You may miss deadlines, but at least you will have a reference point so you can adjust deadlines and expectations.

Published on: Dec 23, 2014